I am currently gazing 200 meters to the south from my table at the Hotel Del Athena. This remarkable terrace sits in the shadow of the worlds best kept Greek Temple. Being in Agrigentro is just a bit more than surreal. It is not often that a mere mortal gets so close to such ancient and awesome architecture that was built only for the gods to enjoy. Most of us would tend to think that if you wish to visit such stunning Greek temples you should probably get yourself to Greece.
I made that mistake but I was clearly out to lunch. This place is incredible and should not be missed if visiting Sicily or anywhere near for that matter. Of course, with every description of ancient ruins should come a short history lesson laying out the important facts and figures. I will spare you that but encourage you to spend a minute or two searching Wikipedia for the significant details.
As you can imagine a seat at a five star hotel surrounded by greatness is a recipe for making euros and in fact you would be right. Two double Bombay (Mumbai) gin and Schweppes tonic accompanied by olives & almonds and the bill came to 56 big ones. Oh well, the waiters were dressed in white tuxedo jackets and the manager moved like a cat with an eagle eye for anything that could constitute less than impeccable service. Dale mentioned that during a short period when he stepped away from our table he overheard some American sixty something tourists lambasting their poor guide for bringing their bus tour to a hotel that uses televisions in the guest suites that are not even as big as the ones in their kitchens back home. I personally can’t think why you could care less when you are paying mega bucks for a five star hotel next to several unspoilt Greek Temples, but each to his own and praise be to Jeebus that I don’t one day become one of those old pricks.
How we got to the Valley of the Temple of the Gods is in someways just as interesting. Yesterday we arrived in Sicily via Venice and Volotea Airlines. We landed on the east coast in a city named Catania. We wisked our way through the airport to Budget Rentals and soon after were motoring through the hills to the south of the city near Mt. Etna. The destination yesterday was our Airbnb in Ragusa Ibla owned and operated by Gianni and his daughter Chiara. As the photographs attached will indicate Chiara’s home is perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the rest of the hilltown to the south.
The home is a modern and recently renovated cliffside beauty that is absolutely gorgeous. It is clean both in condition and interior design and the balcony is unlike any other I have stood on before. This town is used regularly as a set for an Italian crime drama that is subtitled in many languages and aired all around the world. For those interested, the program is Inspector Montalbano and I recommend a watch.
Upon arrival yesterday we were met by Gianni and checked in with speed and accuracy. It’s not often that you are met at the door with an assortment of delicate Sicilian baked goods. It was nice to meet Gianni and he was quick to give us the local 411 that could help us enjoy our next 48 hours here. Soon after we jumped in the car and headed down the hill into the bustling village. The churches are magnificent and the accompanying businesses and homes fell suit. We wandered for quite some time only to stop for a pew at a local church and an espresso at the appropriate time to recharge the batteries.
Later we headed into Ragusa proper for a SPAR grocery store to shop for some fresh pasta for dinner. Both Pomodoro and Pesto on tonight’s menu. The plate would not be complete without sun-dried tomatoes and anchovies to accompany the local pane’. Given we are in the slow food capital of the world we took advantage and spent a couple hours enjoying our meal and the very cheap yet delicious tetra pack table wine that costs less than 2 dollars Canadian a litre but Mama Mia is it good. Dishes washed and a little TV capped off the night as well as could be expected. Let me tell you now, by no fault of our own our expectations are now quite high.
Tomorrow we leave from Catania bound for Barcelona and two days of sights, sounds, smells, tapas and wine. Perhaps after a stroll on Las Ramblas we can slump into a Paella induced coma. Lastly but not least we stopped in Punta Secca on the coast this morning. It is a beautiful seaside town that has a wonderful beach and wonderful coffee. We stayed for a while and enjoyed all its graces. Go there, do that, don’t be a Goomba (spelling??)!